Tapping into the apprenticeship opportunity

Skills

Why apprenticeships can prove invaluable when hiring the best talent for the channel

Despite Westminster’s indecision around Article 50 and the uncertainty surrounding the Chancellor’s Spring Budget there is actually much to celebrate this week. We are currently in the midst of National Apprentice Week and yesterday, March 8, was also International Women’s Day!

The popularity of apprenticeships has grown rapidly over the last three years. Thanks largely to initiatives like National Apprentice Week and the introduction of hybrid approaches like degree apprenticeships, the unconscious bias and stigma surrounding apprenticeship schemes has begun to disappear.

Apprenticeships are positive for employees and employers alike. For some of the most creative and talented young minds, the traditional paths of education aren’t always the most attractive or most effective.

Apprenticeships gaining popularity

With the escalating costs of higher education and a general wider acceptance that traditional academia is not always the best fit for everyone, the apprenticeship route is rapidly gaining popularity and recognition across a variety of sectors, in particular, the tech space.

It’s important that all students are aware of the full range of opportunities open to them upon leaving school. These opportunities include; gap year schemes, apprenticeships, and now degree apprenticeship programmes. It’s also equally important that employers understand this too if they are to fully benefit from the depth and skills of the undoubted talent pool out there.

Employer awareness is certainly on the up and we’ve seen positive growth in the number of apprenticeship schemes being offered over the last three years. This week Barclays announced that it was starting a graduate apprenticeship scheme. The bank joins the heavy-weight likes of Deloitte, BAE system, IBM and Cogeco Peer 1 also building on next generation talent by offering apprentice opportunities.

The UK is currently one of the most digitally advanced nations in the world, with 7.5 percent of the workforce employed in digital industries, and 12.4 percent of the country’s GDP attributed to technology and digital business. That’s the highest of any of the G20 member countries!

ICT growth

The requirement for ICT workers in the UK is predicted to grow by nearly 40 percent by 2030, and nearly 750,000 additional workers will be required by the end of this 2017. If the UK is to retain its position at the digital top table, and future-proof itself against geo-political and macro-economic factors, new approaches and strategies like apprenticeship schemes are fundamental to this success.

The general outlook within the channel is that the country’s skills gap is less of a cause for concern than it is for the UK’s wider digital economy. However, the stream of previously untapped talent provided by apprentice schemes can only benefit the IT resellers, managed service providers and independent IT providers that make up the UK’s channel ecosystem.

Thankfully, these days apprenticeship schemes are no longer associated exclusively with manual jobs with schemes like those provided by Barclays and Deloitte, IBM and Cogeco Peer 1 helping further dispel any lingering misconceptions.

Susan Bowen is vice president and general manager, EMEA at Cogeco Peer 1
Susan Bowen is vice president and general manager, EMEA at Cogeco Peer 1

Apprenticeships should be viewed as an invaluable, contemporary and inclusive approach to hiring the best talent. In the process, they will also allow the UK’s channel, tech and digital sectors to recruit some of the best, and previously inaccessible raw talent into their ranks, ensuring that they remain competitive and at the cutting edge of global innovation.